Best Children’s Books About Mental Health. This list recommends 44 books to help kids (ages 3-12) understand emotional and learning challenges. https://childmind.org/article/best-childrens-books-about-mental-health/
NAMI Main Line PA has compiled this list of books related to mental health issues for children and teens. This list has the following sections:
- Books for Children and Teens about their Psychological Issues
- Anger and Impulse Control
- Anxiety, Worry and OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder)
- Depression and Bipolar Disorder
- Feelings, Self-Esteem, and Relaxation
- General and Miscellaneous
- PTSD and trauma (including separation, sexual abuse and family violence)
- Lists of Recommended Books
- Books for Children and Teens who have Parents with Mental Health Conditions, including Substance Abuse
- Books for Children and Teens who have Siblings with a Mental Health Condition
- Books for Parents of Children with Mental Health Issues
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Although the information in this book list is accurate to the best of our knowledge, we are not specifically endorsing these books. To give us feedback on specific books or this list in general, email us at info@NAMIPAMainLine.org or call 267-251-6240. If you find a link that is no longer working, please copy and paste the text or book title into your browser and search for it online or on Amazon.
Books for Children and Teens about their Psychological Issues
A Boy and a Bear: The Children’s Relaxation Book by Lori Lite (ADHD) (for children ages 3-10) (https://www.amazon.com/Boy-Bear-Childrens-Relaxation-Book/dp/1886941076)
Gordy the Rabbit has ADHD by Jessie Shepherd (What Mental Disorder series) (for children) (https://www.amazon.com/Gordy-Rabbit-ADHD-Mental-Disorder/dp/1943880026)
Marvin’s Monster Diary—ADHD Attacks! by Raun Melmed and Annette Sexton (for children ages 7-11) (https://www.amazon.com/Marvins-Monster-Diary-Attacks-Mindfulness/dp/1942934106)
Anger and Impulse Control
I Was So Mad by Mercer Meyer (Little Critter series) (for children ages 3-7) (https://www.amazon.com/Was-Mad-Little-Critter-Look-Look/dp/0307119394)
What To Do When Your Temper Flares by Dawn Heubner (for children ages 8-12) (https://www.amazon.com/What-When-Your-Temper-Flares/dp/1433801345)
What Were You Thinking? Learning to Control Your Impulses by Brian Smith and Lisa Griffen (for children ages 3-7) (https://www.amazon.com/What-Were-You-Thinking-Executive/dp/1934490962)
When Sophie Gets Angry – Really, Really Angry by Molly Bang (for children ages 4-8) (https://www.amazon.com/Sophie-Angry-Really-Really-Scholastic-Bookshelf/dp/0439598451)
Anxiety, Worry and OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder)
David and the Worry Beast: Helping Children Cope with Anxiety by Anne Marie Guanci (for children ages 4-9) (https://www.amazon.com/David-Worry-Beast-Helping-Children/dp/0882822756)
Don’t Feed the WorryBug by Andi Green (Worry Woo Monsters series) (for children)
Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone (OCD, recovery) (ages 13+)
Guts by Raina Telgemeier (anxiety) (for children in 3rd-8th grade)(https://www.target.com/p/guts-by-raina-telgemeier-paperback/-/A-54204482)
Panicosaurus by Kay Al-Ghani (anxiety) (for children ages 6-11)
The Lion Who Lost His Roar: A Story of Facing Your Fears by Marcia Shoshana Nass (for children ages 4-8) (https://www.amazon.com/Lion-Who-Lost-His-Roar/dp/158)
The Thought That Counts: A Firsthand Account of One Teenager’s Experience with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder by Jared Kant and Martin Franklin (for teenagers)
Up and Down the Worry Hill by Aureen Pinto Wagner (OCD) (for children ages 7-10)
What To Do When Your Brain Gets Stuck by Dawn Heubner (OCD) (for children ages 8-12)
What To Do When You Worry Too Much—A Kid’s Guide to Overcoming Anxiety by Dawn Heubner (for children ages 8-12) (https://www.amazon.com/What-When-You-Worry-Much/dp/1591473144)
What To Do When You’re Scared and Worried—A Guide for Kids by James Crist (Anxiety) (for children ages 8-12) (https://www.amazon.com/What-When-Youre-Scared-Worried/dp/1575421534)
What You Must Think of Me: A Firsthand Account of One Teenager’s Experience with Social Anxiety Disorder by Emily Ford and Michael Liebowitz (for teenagers)
Wilma Jean the Worry Machine by Julia Cook (Anxiety) (for children ages 5-8)
Autism: What does it mean to me?: A Workbook Explaining Self-Awareness and Life Lessons to the Child or Youth with High Functioning Autism or Aspergers by Faherty and Mesibov (for children and adults)
Superflex Takes on Glassman and the Team of Unthinkables (comic book for ASD/autism) by Stephanie Madrigal and Michelle Garcia Winner (for K-5th grade students)
You are a Social Detective by Michelle Garcia Winner and Pamela Crooke (Autism) (for children)
Depression and Bipolar Disorder
Blueloon by Julia Cook (depression) (for children ages 5-8)
Brandon and the Bipolar Bear—A Story for Children with Bipolar Disorder by Tracy Anglada and Jennifer Taylor (for children ages 4-12)
Brianna and the Blue Monster: A Cognitive Behavioral Story for Children with Depression by Patience Domowski (for children) (https://www.amazon.com/Brianna-Blue-Monster-Behavioral-Depression/dp/1520416113)
Eight Stories Up: An Adolescent Chooses Hope over Suicide by Quincy Levine and David Brent (for teenagers) (https://www.amazon.com/Eight-Stories-Up-Adolescent-Chooses/dp/0195325575)
Josh Wears a Red Cape: The Little Boy Who Beat the Bipolar Villain by Deborah Rose (for children)
Meh by Deborah Malcolm (depression) (for children ages 6-10)
Michael Rosen’s Sad Book by Michael Rosen (for teenagers)
Mind Race: a Firsthand Account of One Teenager’s Experience with Bipolar Disorder by Patrick Jamieson (for ages 12-17) (https://www.amazon.com/Mind-Race-Experience-Adolescent-Initiative/dp/0195309057)
Monochrome Days: A First-Hand Account of One Teenager’s Experience with Depression by Cait Irwin and Dwight L. Evans (for teenagers)
Sadly the Owl by Linnie von Sky (depression) (for ages 5-7)
The Hyena Who Lost Her Laugh by Jessica Lamb-Shapiro (depression and CBT = cognitive behavioral therapy) (for children) (https://www.amazon.com/Hyena-Who-Lost-Her-Laugh/dp/1588150054)
The Princess and the Fog by Lloyd Jones (depression) (for ages 5-7)
Feelings, Self-Esteem, and Relaxation
A Boy and a Bear: The Children’s Relaxation Book by Lori Lite (ADHD) (for ages 3-10)
Eggbert the Slightly Cracked Egg by Tom Ross (self-esteem) (for ages 4-8)
Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae (self-esteem) (for ages 4+)
Grow Happy by Jon Lasser (resiliency) (for ages 4-8)
My Different Colored Days – A Story About Feelings by Community Care Behavioral Health Organization (for ages 4-19)
My Many Colored Days by Dr. Suess (emotions) (for ages 2-5)
My Quiet Ship by Hallee Adelman (emotions) (for ages 3-7)
Peaceful Piggy Meditation by Kerry Lee Maclean and Kerry Maclean (relaxation) (for ages 4-8)
Peaceful Piggy Yoga by Kerry Lee Maclean (relaxation) (for ages 4-8)
The Can Do Duck by Ducktor Morty (self-esteem) (for children)
The Little Red Ant and the Great Big Crumb: A Mexican Fable retold by Shirley Climo (self-esteem) (for ages 4-7) (https://www.amazon.com/Little-Red-Ant-Great-Crumb/dp/0395720974)
The Way I Feel by Janan Cain (emotions) (for children ages 3+)
Today I Feel silly and Other Moods that Make My Day by Jamie Lee Curtis (for ages 4-8)
What To Do When You Grumble Too Much by Dawn Huebner (for ages 8-12)
|All Feelings are OK- It’s what you do with them that counts
Author: Lawrence E. Shapiro
SUMMARY: When kids can talk about how they are feeling they are more likely to have their needs understood and met. In this comically illustrated Play and Read workbook, one face in every illustration is blank so that kids can either stamp or draw in the face that best expressses their feelings.
APA Magination Press
Item # 4418110
SUMMARY: This volume is designed to help children understand emotions, and shows that it is possible to experience two contrasting feelings at the same time, such as feeling both proud and scared on the first day of school.
|Emotional Bingo for Children ages 6-18
By: Marjorie Mitlin, LICSW; illustrated by Joe Madden
GAME: Identify feelings rather than numbers while playing bingo
Creative Therapy Store: https://www.creativetherapystore.com/products/emotional-bingo-for-teens
|Dealing With Feelings Card Game
by Eric Dlugokinski, Ph.D.
GAME: This colorful deck of cards can be used to help children and adults understand and express their feelings. Fifty playing cards depict 16 different feelings: anger, sadness, fear, shame, nervousness, hate, boredom, loneliness, satisfaction, happiness, safety, pride, relaxation, love, interest, and belonging. Each deck comes with basic instructions and a manual
General and Miscellaneous
Dear Allison: Explaining Mental Illness to Young Readers by Emma Northup Flinn (for children)
Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella (recovering from mental illness) (ages 12+)
I would, but my damn mind won’t let me! – A teen’s guide to controlling their thoughts and feelings (for teens who struggle with body issues, self-doubt and worry) (ages 12+)
Maybe Days: A Book for Children in Foster Care by Jennifer Wilgocki (for ages 4-7)
Millie the Cat Has Borderline Personality Disorder by Jessie Shepherd (What Mental Disorder series) (for children) (https://www.amazon.com/Millie-Borderline-Personality-Disorder-Mental/dp/194388000X)
Next to Nothing: A Firsthand Account of One Teenager’s Experience with an Eating Disorder by Carrie Arnold and B. Timothy Walsh (for teenagers)
Tic Talk by Dylan Peters (Tourette Syndrome) (for children)
You are Not Alone—A SANE Guide to Mental Illness for Children by SANE Australia (Kindle only) (for children) (https://www.amazon.com/Youre-Not-Alone-illness-children-ebook/dp/B00I9SYM04)
PTSD and trauma (including separation, sexual abuse and family violence)
A Place for Starr: A Story of Hope for Children Experiencing Family Violence by Howard Schor (for preteens ages 9+) (https://www.amazon.com/Place-Starr-Children-Experiencing-Violence/dp/1558640827)
A Safe Place to Live: A Story for Children Who Have Experienced Domestic Violence by Michelle Harrison (for children) (https://www.amazon.com/Safe-Place-Live-Children-Experienced/dp/1558640908)
Brave Bart: A Story for Traumatized and Grieving Children by Caroline Sheppard (PTSD) (for children)
Kids Helping Kids Break the Silence of Sexual Abuse by Linda Lee Foltz (for ages 9-12)
Let’s Talk about Taking Care of You: An Educational Book about Body Safety by Lori Stauffer and Esther Deblinger (for children) (https://www.amazon.com/Lets-Talk-About-Taking-Care/dp/0967648920)
Please Tell! A Child’s Story about Sexual Abuse by Jessie (for children ages 4+)
Strong at the Heart: How It Feels to Heal from Sexual Abuse by Carolyn Lehman (for teenagers in grades 9+) (https://www.amazon.com/Strong-Heart-Feels-Sexual-Abuse/dp/0989463605)
Tell Me Something Happy Before I Go to Sleep by Debi Gliori and Joyce Dunbar (Nightmares) (for children) (https://www.amazon.com/Tell-Something-Happy-Before-Sleep/dp/0552545066)
The Brightest Star! by Kathleen Maresh Hemery (PTSD and grieving) (for children)
The Invisible String by Patrice Karst (Separation) (for ages 4-8)
The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn (Separation) (for ages 3-8)
Vinny the Fox has PTSD by Jessie Shepherd (What Mental Disorder series) (for children)
|A Terrible Thing Happened
Author: Margaret M. Holmes
Illustrator: Cary Pillo
Publisher: Magination Pr
SUMMARY: Sherman Smith saw the most terrible thing happen (the terrible thing is never described.) At first he tried to forget about it, but something inside him started to bother him. He felt nervous and had bad dreams. Then he met someone who helped him talk about the terrible thing, and made him feel better. Children often find it easier to open up to a parent or therapist after reading this book. For ages 4-7.
|My Body is Private
Author: Linda Walvoord Girard
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Co.
SUMMARY: Julie, who is eight or nine, talks about privacy and about saying “no” to touching that makes her uncomfortable.
|Your Body Belongs to You
Author: Cornelia Spelman
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Co.
SUMMARY: In simple, reassuring language, the author explains that a child’s body is his or her own; that it is all right for kids to decline a friendly hug or kiss, even from someone they love.
|Please Tell! A Child’s Story About sexual abuse
Author: Jessie (Sandra Hewitt)
Publisher: Hazelden Foundation
SUMMARY: Written and illustrated by a girl who was sexually molested by a family member, this book reaches out to other children by carrying Jessie’s message “It’s o.k. to tell; help can come when you tell.”
Me, Myself, and Them by Kurt Snyder and Raquel E. Gur (schizophrenia) (for teenagers)
Please Stop Smiling—A Story about Schizophrenia and Mental Illness for Children by Richard Carlson Jr. (for children) (https://www.amazon.com/Please-Stop-Smiling-Schizophrenia-Children/dp/147935211X)
Lists of Recommended Books
Books for younger children: Pre-school to 12 years. This list of books and materials was compiled on behalf of the Child and adolescent psychiatry faculty based on recommendations from child and adolescent mental health professionals. (Includes descriptions)
Books and materials for teenagers and adults. This list was compiled on behalf of the Child and adolescent psychiatry faculty based on recommendations from child and adolescent mental health professionals. (http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/workinpsychiatry/faculties/childandadolescent/generalinformation/booksforteensadults.aspx)
- Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome
- Disability & Chronic Illness
- Eating Disorders
- Growing Up and Sex
- Learning Disabilities
Children Understanding Mental Illness – A list of books FOR children that explain mental illness and family issues. (Has 34 books with ratings)
Books for Children and Teens who have Parents with Mental Health Conditions, including Substance Abuse
An Elephant In the Living Room – The Children’s Book by Jill M. Hastings and Marion H. Typpo (ages 9-12) An illustrated story to help children understand and cope with the problem of alcoholism or other drug addiction in the family.
Binky Bunny Wants to Know about Bipolar Disorder by Kathleen Boros (ages 4-7)
Daddy’s Disease (Helping Children Understand) by Carolyn Hannan Bell (parental alcoholism) (ages 5+)
Emmy’s Question by Jennine Auth (parental alcoholism) (ages 9-12)
Finding my Way: A Teens Guide to Living with Parent Who Has Experienced Trauma by Michelle and DeAnne Sherman (ages 12+)
Helicopter Man by Elizabeth Fensham (parental schizophrenia) (ages 11+)
I Can Be Me: A Helping Book for Children of Alcoholic Parents by Dianne O’Connor (ages 4-12)
I Know the World’s Worst Secret: A Child’s Book about Living with an Alcoholic Parent by Doris Sanford and Graci Evans (ages 5+) Elizabeth, the daughter of an alcoholic mother, tries to carry the burden of taking care of the family. Includes guidelines for adults to help children of alcoholics.
Mom and Me: My Journey with Mom’s Schizophrenia by Alexandra Georgas (older teens)
The Bipolar Bear Family: When a Parent Has Bipolar Disorder by Angela Holloway (ages 5+)
The Night Dad Went to Jail: What to Expect When Someone You Love Goes to Jail by Melissa Higgins (ages 5-8) (https://www.amazon.com/Night-Dad-Went-Jail-Challenges/dp/1479521426)
The Words Hurt: Helping Children Cope with Verbal Abuse by Chris Loftis (ages 4-8)
When Mommy Got Hurt by Ilene Lee, Kathy Sylwester and Carol Deach (domestic violence) (ages 2-7)
Wishing Wellness: A Workbook for Children of Parents with Mental Illness by Lisa Clarke (ages 6-12)
Lists that include recommended books for explaining a parent’s mental illness to a child are available at http://bpdfoundation.org.au/childrens-books.php and at http://www.baltimorepsych.com/books.htm.
|Why Is Dad So Mad?
Author: Seth Kastle
Publisher:Tall Tale Press
SUMMARY: A story especially for military families, with special emphasis on post-combat related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the book can help all children and families better understand this debilitating illness.
|“My Dad Loves Me, My Dad Has a Disease” – A Child’s View: Living with Addiction
Author: Claudia Black
Publisher: Mac Publishing
SUMMARY: This workbook gives children age 5 – 12 the opportunity to share their thoughts and feelings and to better understand addiction.
Books for Children and Teens who have Siblings with a Mental Health Condition
Living with a Brother or Sister with Special Needs: A Book for Sibs by Patricia F. Vadasy (ages 3-8)
The Sibling Slam Book: What It’s Really Like To Have A Brother Or Sister With Special Needs by Don Meyer and David Gallagher (ages 12+)
Views from Our Shoes: Growing up with a Brother or Sister with Special Needs by Donald Joseph Meyer and Carry Pillo (ages 9-15)
A list of recommended books for siblings of children with psychiatric disorders is available at
Books for Parents of Children with Mental Health Issues
A Parent Guide to Hair Pulling Disorder: Effective Parenting Strategies for Children with Trichotillomania by Suzanne Mouton-Odum and Ruth Goldfinger Golomb
Depression and Your Child: A Guide for Parents and Caregivers by Deborah Serani
I Hate to Write: Tips for Helping Students with Autism Spectrum and Related Disorders Increase Achievement, Meet Academic Standards and Become Happy, Successful Writers by Cheryl Boucher and Kathy Oehler
If Your Adolescent Has an Anxiety Disorder: An Essential Resource for Parents by Edna B. Foa and Linda Wasmer Andrews (https://www.amazon.com/Your-Adolescent-Has-Anxiety-Disorder/dp/0195181514)
If Your Adolescent Has an Eating Disorder: An Essential Resource for Parents by B. Timothy Walsh and V. L. Cameron (https://www.amazon.com/Your-Adolescent-Has-Eating-Disorder/dp/0195181530)
If Your Adolescent Has Depression or Bipolar Disorder: An Essential Resource for Parents by Dwight L. Evans and Linda Wasmer Andrews
If Your Adolescent Has Schizophrenia: An Essential Resource for Parents by Raquel E. Gur and Ann Braden Johnson (https://www.amazon.com/Your-Adolescent-Has-Schizophrenia-Initiative/dp/019518212X)
Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids – How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting by Dr. Laura Markham
Raising Troubled Kids: Help for Parents of Children with Mental Illness or Emotional Disorders by Margaret Puckette (https://www.amazon.com/Raising-Troubled-Kids-Emotional-Disorders/dp/1419693425)
For a brief online resource, see Learning to Help Your Child and Your Family (https://www.nami.org/Find-Support/Family-Members-and-Caregivers/Learning-to-Help-Your-Child-and-Your-Family).
For additional resources to help children or teens with behavioral problems and/or mental illness, see https://namimainlinepa.org/support/services-for-children-and-teens/.
Self-Help Books for Parents and Adults – This list was compiled on behalf of the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Faculty based on recommendations from child and adolescent mental health professionals.
- ADHD and Hyperactivity
- Childhood Depression
- Eating Disorders
- Life Stages
|SOS Help for Emotions: Managing Anxiety, Anger, & Depression
Author: Lynn Clark, Ph.D.
Publisher: Parents Press
SUMMARY: We all have feelings, it’s what we do with them that counts. Using the techniques and tools of cognitive behavioral approaches and Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy, Lynn Clark can help anyone learn to manage their troublesome emotions for a happier, more peaceful life.
|Children and Trauma: A Guide for Parents & Professionals
Author: Cynthia Monahon
SUMMARY: Childhood traumas range widely in their severity and impact. (An earthquake, being attacked by a dog…) Yet all provoke common symptoms of psychological trauma.
Last updated in December, 2019.